Monthly Archives: May 2012

707

I’m feeling oddly calm today.  Aside from one moment of stomach-turning nerves (as I thought about race music, of all things), I have felt nothing – not excited, not nervous, just calm.

It’s odd.

I went online yesterday to check the Minneapolis Marathon website, again, although it hasn’t changed much if at all over the last few days.  But I noticed that at packet pickup you are supposed to come prepared with your ID and bib number.  I realized that the bib numbers were posted online, so I pulled up the listing to check and see what my number is.

There, nestled three-quarters of the way through the 99-page document, between two race teamers (one team?  Three Chicks and a Dick.  The other team?  3 Dudes and a Lady.  Real original.), was my bib number.

707.

Just seeing this number, somehow, made it all feel right.  I don’t know what it is about this number that makes me feel that this is something special, that it’s all okay.  I couldn’t explain it to my husband.  Sure, I tried to say something about the symmetry of the number, the fact that there are two “7”s, prime numbers, but it all fell flat when I tried to verbalize it.

It just feels right.  Right in a way that 303 or 909 or 1313 (even though my lucky number is 13) just don’t have.  I can’t explain it, I can’t rationalize it, I just know that this is something important.

And if it makes me feel calm, then it is a good thing.

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In an unrelated topic, when the writers of the “Non-Runners Marathon Trainer” wrote that the focus of this week should be to eat plenty of carbohydrates to ensure adequate glycogen stores before the race, I highly doubt that they meant for me to do this mostly by eating chocolate.  In my defense, this is Swiss chocolate, 70% dark chocolate, and it is amazing.  I should never have opened it.  Yes, I should have.  What I should have done is buy more.


mind games

Holy crap.  Do you see this over on the sidebar?  —————————->

For posterity’s sake, I should copy this down.  It says:

Countdown to the Minneapolis Marathon
June 3rd, 2012
8 days to go

I’m actually doing this.

I’ve gone through all sorts of emotions the last week.  Mostly sheer terror nerves.

The mere thought of the marathon has been enough to get me running to the bathroom.

All through the first few months of this training cycle, I was positive.  Upbeat.  While running 15, 17, 18 miles, although (of course) it hurt some, I was just so excited that I was doing it.  I was following the plan.  I was going to run a marathon.

Then May hit.  We got busy.  Super busy.  You might say “life got in the way.”  Soccer started.  Friday night practices, Saturday morning games, Sunday afternoon games.  A trip to Washington, DC.  Three trips to Chicago.  Then, baseball and t-ball started.  More practices.  More games.  Hardly an evening at home.  Then I traveled to Switzerland.

Through it all, I tried to follow the plan.  But the weekday runs suffered.  Although the plan called for three weekly runs, I was struggling to get out once during the week.  I finished all my long runs, but instead of meeting up with the Live Uncommon crew and enjoying running with friends and good conversation, I was out at 5:30 am, in the dark, running alone on the canal bike path.  I ran with time constraints:  “I have to finish this 19 mile run by 9, so I can get home, shower, and be at the soccer game by 10.”  

Apology to the soccer moms:  I actually finished the 20 mile run, got home at 9:30, and turned right around to take my oldest to his soccer game.  I think I might have splashed water on my face, otherwise I went straight from running to his game.  Oddly enough, nobody sat by me…

Intermission:  I just had to go clean up a spill of a full cup of coffee off the kitchen floor.  Apparently the toddler can now reach things on the table.  Fun times. 

Intermission 2: I returned to the computer just to be immediately called back to help open a game box.  This blog post will happen, just maybe not today.   

Hooray, my husband just got home.  Maybe now I can type for more than 10 seconds at a time.

Those long solo runs were tough, both mentally and physically.  I got through them, and I didn’t cut out any miles (okay, the 19 mile run was 18.83, but I was not going one.more.step).  And I know that running them alone was good for my mental toughness.  But, then again, maybe it wasn’t.

Once I started deviating from “The Plan,” my head started playing mind tricks on me.  As long as I was sticking to the plan, I knew I would be fine.  But the last few weeks really started to get to me mentally.  People kept saying, “you’ve done the training, you are fine!”  But I didn’t feel fine, I felt like someone who was cheating on the plan and not doing the work.  And as any runner knows, “not doing the work” = “tough race.”  Combine that with the fact that I wasn’t running with the group (and therefore missing the support that comes with it…misery loves company!), and my mind was just not in it.

Let me state that I have never, never doubted my ability to finish this race.  I still don’t.  Through this whole training period, I have always known I will finish.  That’s just the way I am.  Walk, run, crawl, I will cross that finish line.  But my confidence was rocked when I started to feel that my training was not quite up to par.  So I needed a good group run today just to get my head back in the game.

And a good group run is exactly what I got.  Of course the speedies took off and left us slowpokes in the dust, (Jen and myself).  And poor Josiah got caught in the middle doing his version of a solo group run. 😉  But it was still much faster than my long runs, and so it was a good challenge for me.  And I felt good through most of it, even with my jello-y legs, so it was just what I needed.  I drove home listening to the XM Pink Floyd channel (yeah, it’s awesome), and the combination of endorphins, music, and coffee made me feel so much more optimistic for this race.

I’m excited again.  I’m going to run a marathon!


Switzerland!

I’m sorry this is so late getting posted.  I started this post a few days ago and just haven’t gotten around to finishing it.

Last week, I was in Switzerland.  Lucerne, to be precise.

I got off the train and checked into the hotel to see this view from my hotel window:

Lake Lucerne

Yeah.  Beautiful, right?  Looks like heaven, or something like that.  I think I said to one of my coworkers, “There’s no way you could have a bad day if you lived here.  No way.”

I had lofty plans to run every day in Switzerland.  It didn’t quite work out that way, but I did make it out to run once.

Monday – the day we arrived, we did some shopping and walked around downtown and then had an “excursion” with the meeting groups.  We toured a tractor manufacturer and then had a dinner of “cold meats and cheeses in a garage.”  I didn’t get back to the hotel until 11:30 pm, so there was no running that evening.  I walked at least 3 miles though!

Downtown Lucerne

Dinner in a “garage” (tractor workshop)

Tuesday – first day of meetings, they lasted over 10 hours.  (while I looked outside at the beautiful day) Got back to the hotel and went for a run at about 7 pm.  I had an hour to run, shower, and meet the guys for dinner, so it was a short 3 mile run.  I only ate one of the giant bugs that was flying around the water’s edge.  Success!  Then we walked downtown for dinner, so I probably walked about 3 miles that day also.

Not a bad place to run

Yeah, I could live here.

Wednesday – second day of meetings, it was 48 degrees and rainy.  On the walk back to the hotel it was sleeting.  Since there was no treadmill, I didn’t run.  Probably only a mile of walking since I didn’t want to head downtown in the sleet/rain.

Thursday – last day of meetings, I planned to get up at 6 and go run.  Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep well on this trip so every morning I was TIRED.  This morning was no exception, and although the sun was shining and it looked beautiful out, an extra 45 minutes of sleep sounded way better than a run.  After our meetings we climbed back on the train to head back to Zurich.  Arrived in Zurich around 8 to find that there was no fitness center at the Holiday Inn Express Zurich Airport.  So, no run that day either.  And the view from this hotel was less than spectacular:

Construction, anyone?

The flight home was pretty uneventful also.  Although it was a bit depressing when I realized that as I was getting up at 5:15, at home it was actually 10:15 pm the night before.  So by the time I got home I had been up for about 21 hours (with a little bit of sleep on the plane).

I had 12 on the plan for the weekend, but Sunday morning struggled through one of my worst 10 mile runs ever.  Glad that I got that out of my system.

10 days until Minneapolis!  If I’m not ready now, I never will be 🙂


A long, long run

Before yesterday morning, I had a whopping zero miles for the week.

The week.

Due to lots of reasons, some valid and some not-so-valid, I hadn’t run since the 12 last Sunday.  And all week this hung ominously over my head like a dark rain cloud.

“You haven’t run all week.”

“You do remember you have to run 20 miles on Saturday, right?”

“Not once. Not even once.  What is wrong with you?”

So, on Friday morning, when the weather was perfect, I struggled to decide whether or not to run.  One side of my brain said “No, you shouldn’t run.  You should always take the day before a long run off.”  The other side said, “Zero.  Do you want to go into your 20 mile run with zero miles for the week?

I quickly sent an email to a few friends whose input I respect, and when they both told me to go for it (as long as I kept it to under 30 minutes and didn’t go too fast), I decided to head out.  I loaded up the toddler in the jogging stroller and got a nice 3 mile easy run in.  It felt great.

You know what felt better?  No more zero!

Knowing I had this 20 mile run scheduled for today, I should have done a better job with my diet yesterday.  I didn’t eat very well (meaning I didn’t eat much), and then we didn’t really have dinner.  So at 7:45 I cooked a pot of whole wheat pasta and ate pasta with olive oil and a “poor man’s pesto” for dinner at 8:00 pm.  I checked the weather (they were predicting thunderstorms all morning), laid out my running gear for the morning, plugged in the Garmin, and headed to bed around 9 pm.  I was exhausted, and knew I needed sleep since was planning to get up at 5 to go run.  What an exciting Friday evening…

I was still tasting that pesto this morning when I got up.  Gross.

My alarm went off just before 5, but I had been sleeping fitfully since about 3 am.  So I got up, got dressed, and ate a piece of toast.    I headed out to the bike path around 5:30 am.

I had a plan to break the run into four 5-mile sections.  My fitness/running mentor (yes, I have a mentor now) recommended that I start out slow and then progress faster as the run went on.  So my plan was to run the first 5 miles no faster than 10:00/mile, and hopefully slower if I could make myself do it.

Foreshadowing here:  Keeping the pace over 10:00/mile was the least of my worries.

I am not kidding when I say those first two miles are the worst miles I have run in, oh, years.  Anything that could irritate me, did.  I retied my shoes three times in the first 0.1 mile.  When the Garmin beeped at me a few minutes later, I first panicked that the battery was dying, then realized that it was trying to shut down.  I had forgotten to restart it after tying my shoes, and I had lost something like a half mile.  Talk about a mental challenge.  Luckily when I hit my known “1 mile” mark, the Garmin said 0.50, so I knew it was almost exactly a half mile I had lost.  But I was disappointed, I had really looked forward to seeing that 20.00 pop up on the screen.

I felt like I was running in quicksand.  I had a headache.  My legs were heavy.  My mind was playing tricks on me.  I kept trying to tell myself that it would get better, but at a few points I felt so awful I was almost in tears.  It was a low point, that’s for sure.  I stopped and walked at least twice, maybe three times.

2 miles into my run, I realized that something needed to change.  My attitude, definitely.  But I needed something to reset my whole run.  I felt silly, but I decided to try taking a gel.  Yep, 2 miles into my run I needed to fuel.  Luckily I had grabbed an extra when packing up my belt for the first 10 miles.  I had purchased one of these CLIF Double Expresso gels a few weeks ago at Dick’s.

It tasted horrible, yet awesome all at the same time.  And I think the 100mg of caffeine went straight to my head, because I felt better within minutes.  (it was at this point I also realized I had not had any pre-run coffee…)

The first 10 miles were awesome.  I felt good, and really enjoyed the running.  The slower pace was really nice for a change.   I really wanted to keep track of my 5 mile “laps” but with the half mile Garmin snafu, I have to estimate everything.

First 5 miles:  54 (ish) minutes
Second 5 miles: 50
Third 5 miles: 53
Last 5 miles:  53

So it turns out that I was pretty consistent, but that middle 5 miles was definitely my best.  I will admit that I struggled on most of the last 10 – well, the last 7.  I made it to 13 miles pretty comfortably,  and realized at mile 18 that I felt a lot better than I did on the 19 miler last week.  I was still tired and wanted to quit, but I wasn’t as tired as I had been.  I did allow myself more walk breaks on the last 5 though, so the pace reflects that.

And then I looked down and was running sub-10 minute pace the last mile – so I must have had something else in me.

I’m still questioning how on earth I can run 20 miles and be ready for 26.2, but I’m allowing a leap of faith that the running gurus know what they are talking about.

I’d type more, but I am heading out for my Mother’s Day dinner (I’ll be spending Mother’s Day in airports and on planes).

Tomorrow I leave for Switzerland for a week, and hopefully will get to run some there.


Seen on my run…

I just remembered I wanted to share a few pictures from my run this morning.  Before last week, I had never gone six miles east on the canal bike path before.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find this waiting for me at mile 5.5.  (these pictures are much better than the ones I took last week in the 44 degree cloudy drizzle).

If this isn’t enough of a reason to make it all the way out for 6 miles, I don’t know what is.  It’s like a little piece of heaven.  Plus, the last 1.5 miles or so of the trail get nice and soft, no more blacktop, just a soft dirt path.  That’s nice on the soles.

The path to a marathon...

The path to this marathon goes through this tunnel.

I thought it was past time to update the header on this blog, since it’s no longer winter.  So I snapped a shot facing the other way (this is looking west from the same point).

It’s six miles to the car from here…

Morning at the canal in May


Birds and buttercups

This is going to have to be a quick one.  If I’m learning anything, it’s that for me, blogging is something I have to squeeze in or it will not get done.  (which is why you didn’t get the mile-by-mile recap of the 19 mile run last weekend that I thought I’d do…)

At this very moment I can hear a toddler coming this way…

12 miles this morning.  My legs weren’t feeling it, I was tired (which is weird considering I hardly ran all week).  But I knew that this was good training for my brain – 90% of running is mental, after all.  I know that my legs and body can run 12 miles, it should be easy after running over 15 miles for the last few weeks.  But it’s my brain that tries to convince me I can’t.

I’ve been working on my running mantras.  I posted about this a few weeks ago.  Oddly enough, the day I mentioned I was going to work on them, Barefoot Angie Bee posted this about her mantras.

Sorry, I just had to take a slight break there to go change a fully loaded diaper…such is the life of a mom.

So – I read Angie’s post, and I immediately found one of my new mantras.  Did you read her post?  You should.  (caution, the language may not be PG) You see, the mantras that I had tried were positive.  “I am strong.”  “I am powerful.”  “I am graceful.”  Not working when I am tired, plodding, and feel like my legs are weighed down with bricks.  What I need is a kick in the pants.

So, I love, love, love, “Suck it up, buttercup.”  And “You’ve got more.”  Because that’s what I need to hear to make my mind believe, and to force it to make my legs do what they are capable of.

Then a few days ago my amazing virtual friend Holly (who only lives 80 miles away…we have got to do a race together someday, Holly!), posted on her blog that she was selling Bondi Bands for her fundraising for St. Jude’s.  Bondi Bands may be the single best invention I have found for running – with my short hair I can’t do a ponytail, or even a barrette.  So headbands are the only option I have – and these soak up the sweat and pull back every tiny hair.  Plus they are cute. 😉

And another slight break while I plug back in the wireless router that my child so thoughtfully unplugged…

And the final selling point?  She was selling this one.

I mean, how much more perfect can it get?  It’s like all the fates were lining up to tell me something.  And yes, I bought it.  It’s so perfect.

Not much else exciting on my run today, my IT band started to annoy me, which is odd because it hasn’t been an issue before.  So I am foam rolling and hoping it can keep it from getting worse the next four weeks.

Oh, and on my run today I saw the most amazing array of colorful birds.  The list:

2 Baltimore Orioles (a male/female pair)
1 cardinal
1 unknown bird (black and white with a red breast, I will figure this one out)
2 blue herons
2 red-winged blackbirds
1 mourning dove
and countless small brown birds.

Pair that with our new family of bluebirds in our backyard, and it’s been a bird-filled weekend.

Off to do some laundry and prepare for a preschool soccer game today.  Have a great week!


April showers bring May flowers

I was feeling rather sorry for myself in that last post, wasn’t I?

Sometimes your kids have a way of knowing what you need even before you do.

This was waiting for me on my pillow tonight. It’s May Day, you know.

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